Skincare in your 30s: An Introduction to Targeted Skincare

Glossier Super Bounce Serum | Glossier Super Pure Serum | Ren Flash Hydro Boost Plumping Emulsion | Alpha H Liquid Gold | The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension | The Ordinary 0.2% Retinol in Squalane | Swiss Clinic Derma Roller

When it comes to picking skincare, it can be minefield. With endless options for just the basic steps of cleanse, tone and moisturise, start throwing in targeted options like Vitamin C, Retinols, Hylauronic Acid and Dermarolling and it’s game over for even the most enthusiastic of skincare enthusiasts!

I’ve always loved skincare but since hitting my 30s, I’ve really ramped up the regimen as well as my understanding of what exactly I need to target my specific concerns. Unlike in my 20s where I just slapped on anything hoping it would help me ‘age well’, in my 30s I feel like I’ve really started to understand my skin as it’s now I suppose the concerns I was trying to keep at bay in my 20s like wrinkles, pigmentation and enlarged pores, are all starting to take centre stage.

It all started last summer, I came back from a 10 day break in the Dominican Republic and could not get rid of a very specific, ‘tash looking darkening above my top lip. This had happened on previous holidays but as the sun in the Caribbean was so much more intense, it’s something I noticed, and unfortunately stuck around, for a lot longer than it ever had before. At first I put it down to what I called ‘tash rash’, I hadn’t threaded my top lip before going away and coupled with reapplication of SPF and sweaty skin, I thought it was just a severe case of heat rash. After still not fading by the next summer I took my research one step further and diagnosed myself with Melasma; the most severe (and bloody annoying) form of pigmentation.

It was now I knew it was time to call in the big guns, but before dropping hundreds on clinical treatments I wanted to really get to the bottom of the cause of this Melasma, as well as ways to remedy it with over the counter products.

And the biggest cause of course is sun exposure. Not being one to holiday too frequently in my 20s I did have a patch of sunbed obsession which lasted a good few months and is now something I really regret, and would never do again given the most unflattering after effects that have manifested through Melasma. Any cure looked pretty bleak with over the counter options but through researching and debunking all these skincare terms like Retinol, Peptides and Anti-Oxidants, I felt like I’d become quite the skincare connoisseur and could identify exactly what options would truly benefit me, and what I felt I needed to start using intuitively rather than aimlessly applying serums and hoping for the best.

So here we go, you’re ultimate guide to targeted skincare for your 20s, 30s and beyond.

Hylauronic Acid

What is it? Despite the name ‘acid’ this is actually a very gentle product. It’s something that’s found naturally within the skin that keeps us hydrated and as we age, is something we produce less of. This sits on the surface of the skin and slightly below the surface and attracts water from the air to hydrate skin throughout the day. I love The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid and the Ren Flash Hydro Boost Emulsion.

Who is it for? A good to have in your 20s, an absolute must in your 30s and beyond.

Glycolic Acid/AHAs/Liquid Exfoliators

What is it? Essentially an acid based toner or exfoliator, these products work on dissolving the top layers of dead skin to reveal a brighter, smoother complexion. Found in most anti-aging products this is great for re-texturising the skin, revealing a brighter complexion as well as clearing pores. Products like the Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Pixi Glow Tonic, Alpha H Liquid Gold and the Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel are all great options.

Who is it for? Another must have for 20s and 30s as regular use helps to clarify the skin’s texture as well as warding off deeper set wrinkles into your 40s, before moving onto a Retinol.

Retinol/Vitamin A

What is it? This is actually something that can be used at any age however it’s most prevalent in skincare aimed at the 40+ bracket. It comes in a variation of strengths and has a whole host of benefits including treating rosacea, acne, pigmentation, lines and wrinkles, dull complexion, pretty much anything and everything can be addressed with this product, it’s about identifying how you can use it and what strength to go for. This is something I have recently introduced to my skincare routine to specifically target pigmentation but also to address early onset wrinkles and elasticity, to work as a preventative. I apply this from my forehead down to all over my chest and as I’m in my 30s, I’m happy with over the counter dosages like The Ordinary 2% as opposed to prescription options which are mostly targeted to the 40+ market.

Who is it for? Can be used at any age but always start with a lower % as it can be an irritant and go from there. A facialist or dermatologist can then advise you on prescriptive options if needed.

Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid

What is it? Also known as an anti-oxidant this for me is the number one product for treating pigmentation and specifically sun damage. Now like Retinol, Vitamin C comes in varying strengths and depending on what you want it to target, will depend on the percentage you go for. For an all over brightening and preventative option, lower percentages like the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum are great. For me, targeting pigmentation and specifically sun damage, I need to go industrial strength with one that’s at least 20% and to only be used at night. Now as the percentage gets higher the texture gets more ‘unpleasant’ shall we say? Not unpleasant but by no means a joy to use. It becomes gritty and more paste like and for me leaves a weird metallic scent on my hands after use. It’s weird but definitely worth it if you’re serious about tackling sun damage. Due to this grit you will often find Vitamin C products at a high percentage are ‘suspended’ in something, usually silicone to make it more user friendly. Now I hate silicone based products as I feel like something’s just sitting on my skin and it leaves a residue so I go for The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23%  in HA Spheres which is a fancy term for hylauronic acid, so a hydrator basically which absorbs nicely into the skin as opposed to silicone that sits on top.

Who is it for? Anyone wanting to prevent or tackle sun damage and pigmentation or achieve an overall brighter complexion.

Niacinamide/Vitamin B3

What is it? This is what I call the dark horse of the skincare world and that’s because it’s not usually labelled as being a selling point of many products yet it is present in so many.  So what does it do? Well a number of things, it prevents dehydration and aids plumpness in the skin, works as an anti inflammatory so great as an acne treatment and boosts collagen to aid with pore shrinkage. I recently discovered this in the Glossier Super Pure Serum alongside zinc and would hugely recommend especially if you suffer from breakouts and troublesome skin.

Who is it for? Anyone with inflammation and redness (acne), anyone with oily skin wanting to refine skin, shrink pores and reduce breakouts. I primarily use it to target enlarged pores caused by my oily skin.

Dermarolling/Micro Needling

What is it? Dermarolling is the use of super fine needles on a roller ball to essentially ‘wound’ the skin to encourage deeper penetration when using active ingredients like retinol/vitamin A to enhance results for treatments in things like acne scarring, enlarged pores and pigmentation. Again for me as I’m targeting pigmentation and enlarged pores I jumped on this one and I do think it is worth trying to factor in at least 3 times a weeks. Needles vary in ml but as always it’s key to start off small and go from there. Now it sounds traumatic, but I assure you it’s not, it’s pain free when using the 0.2mm and if you’re particularly sensitive you may experience some redness but this should pass. I run this all over my skin, back and forth for about 3-4 times after cleansing and before moving onto my more active skincare of toners, serums etc.

Who is it for? Anyone addressing pigmentation and scarring in particular but great as an aid to get your skincare working further into your skin layers.

So there we have it, hopefully this has made options a bit clearer in terms of what’s available and what these ingredients all actually do. I know there’s a lot of overlap with some of these and that’s the difficult part, determining what’s best for you and your needs just comes down to trial and error. But what better excuse do you need for a skincare splurge ey?! Consider yourself enabled!

2 Responses to Skincare in your 30s: An Introduction to Targeted Skincare

  1. Beth says:

    Really useful Mary, thanks for sharing! Trying to understand the vast array of skincare on offer and what I should incorporate based on my age and skin type/concerns can often be overwhelming. This definitely helped point me in the right direction.

  2. Mariam says:

    Hi Mary, I really like this post, as I am also in my 30s and I’m noticing how fine lines are appearing on my forehead almost overnight (sob). I have been visiting the Debbie Thomas clinic in London and its really making a difference, so I highly recommend checking her website out. She was recommended by Sunbeamsjess on Youtube. There’s also The Ordinary’s Niacinamide serum.

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